An Innkeeper’s Guide to Newport

Experience life on the sea with a relaxing escape to Newport, Rhode Island. The New England town is home to mansions once owned by the Vanderbilt and Astor families, but you don’t have to be American royalty to love Newport. From fresh-caught seafood to a winding trail along cliffs overlooking the ocean, there’s something for everyone to love. When you stay at a Newport bed and breakfast, you get the inside scoop on the best of Newport. These tips from local innkeepers will help you make the most of your seaside getaway.

Things to do

Several of our innkeepers recommend exploring the historic mansions of Newport. The Preservation Society of Newport County has preserved 11 properties, several of which were once owned by the famous Vanderbilt family. Go on a guided tour and explore three centuries of American architecture, ranging from the Colonial era to the Gilded Age.

Cheryl & Harry Schatmeyer, innkeepers at The Victorian Ladies Inn, encourage guests to drive the famous Ten Mile Drive, which winds through the town and provides a thorough taste of Newport’s history and culture. If you prefer a walk, they recommend strolling through the town’s historic area. Another tip they give guests is to watch the local polo matches.

The Victoria Skylar innkeepers, Ann & Derek Coulton, recommend visiting Easton’s Beach, Newport’s only ocean beach. In addition to sand and waves, it features an outdoor skateboard park, a carousel, and a free weekly summer concert series. If guests want to learn more about Newport, innkeepers encourage a walking tour with themes such as history or pirates. They also suggest exploring the Forty Steps, a stone staircase on a cliff with a balcony overlooking the sea.

Rose and Ric Ranucci, the innkeepers of The Artful Lodger, suggest outdoor lovers take a relaxing bike ride along Ocean Drive or a hike in the woods of Brenton Point State Park, which has gorgeous ocean views. For a very different experience, they recommend people watching on Thames Street, a street in the middle of Newport’s downtown. It’s filled with shops, bars, restaurants, and historic homes, making it the perfect place to watch the world go by. In the evening, they recommend watching the sunset over the Adirondacks from Castle Hill Inn.

Will Dewey & Anne Maria Howard-Duprey are the innkeepers of Francis Malbone House Inn, and they point guests in the direction of the Cliff Walk. The popular trail is 3.5 miles long, but you can start and stop wherever you want. Most of the walk is easy, but part of it requires walking on rocks, so bring sturdy shoes. The innkeepers also recommend taking a sailing adventure. If you don’t have a boat, several companies offer sailing excursions.

Sarah Kendall House’s innkeepers, Brian and Fran Babcock, love sending guests to explore Fort Adams. Cross Newport Harbor with a short drive or water taxi to visit this fort that actively housed soldiers from 1824 to 1950. Explore their tunnel system and see what life was like for those who lived here. They say wine lovers will enjoy tasting wine at Newport’s vineyards; there are three in Newport and two others in the surrounding area. They also recommend a walk or hike through Norman Bird Sanctuary, a nearby wildlife refuge on over 300 acres.

Where to eat

One of the best parts of going somewhere new is trying the local cuisine. Due to its waterfront location, Newport’s restaurants serve the freshest seafood you can buy.

Every meal could consist of the day's fresh catch, but Newport doesn’t rely solely on the bounty of the sea. Fine dining, fusion and artisan cuisines can also be found right alongside the waterfront in one of Colonial America’s largest ports.

These eateries come highly recommended by many of our innkeepers:

  • 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grille: Dine on world-class steaks and New England seafood while overlooking the water.
  • Fluke Wine, Bar & Kitchen: Self-described as “relaxed modern American cuisine,” this hip restaurant delivers fresh and local seafood with artisan wine.
  • Scales and Shells: This seafood-only restaurant prides itself on obtaining the freshest food possible and features a raw oyster bar.
  • The Mooring: A waterfront restaurant specializing in delicious local seafood in a relaxed atmosphere.

Other restaurants suggested:


Where to shop

After you’ve wined, dined, and enjoyed Newport’s best activities, it’s time to stroll the shops. These memorable local merchants have great desserts, gifts, and keepsakes perfect for perusing after a lovely meal.

Our innkeepers’ different tastes reflect the variety of shopping available in town, from vintage home décor to high-quality denim. These are some of their top recommendations for their guests.



The Victoria Skylar



The Artful Lodger



Francis Malbone House Inn

  • Primavera: Unique home wares, gifts, and jewelry.
  • Cottage and Garden: Vintage home decor including garden objects, sofas, planters, and chandeliers.


Sarah Kendall House

  • Mad Hatter Bakery: While you’re out shopping, make a stop here for a handmade cupcake or cookie.
  • Three Golden Apples: A fine jewelry shop with professional jewelers who can create a custom piece for you.

Where to go for nightlife

A city can change from day to night. Make sure you get the full experience. Watching a sunset over the harbor doesn’t mean you have to retire for the evening just yet.

All of our innkeepers agree that an evening at Newport Blues Café for live jazz is a must. A few of our innkeepers recommend the club 1 Pelham East for the party crowd, and the Newport Music Festival for warm summer nights. Read on to find some more hot spots!



The Victorian Ladies Inn



The Victoria Skylar

  • Rhino Bar and Grille: The Rhino Bar provides you with live entertainment, a nightclub, outside and inside dining, sports on 12 flat screen TV’s.
  • Buskers: An Irish pub that features an old world setting, decorated with genuine Irish antiques imported from the old sod, and live music every weekend.


The Artful Lodger

  • The Port Grill & Rawbar: Waterfront restaurant with live entertainment.
  • The Fifth Element: In its new incarnation, is a casual-hip dining hangout populated by locals, destination diners and tourists alike. The interior is finished with a winning combination of rustic and industrial decor.
  • Bannister's Wharf and Bowen's Wharf: Shopping, restaurants, and sea side ambiance on these harbors.


Francis Malbone House Inn

  • Sunset Sailing


Sarah Kendall House



What to do for day trips

Many of our innkeepers urge guests to take a day trip to Block Island, a small island is surrounded by 17 miles of beautiful beaches. You’ll find outdoor activities such as horseback riding, bike riding, hiking, fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, and more, in addition to shopping at more than 50 stores. You can easily access the island during the summer months with a 30-minute ferry ride.

Additionally, The Victoria Skylar recommends visiting the town of Bristol, which is only 20 minutes away by car. While you’re there, they recommend visiting Blithewold Mansion, Gardens, and Arboretum. Their other suggestions include going antique shopping, dining in the harbor area, and exploring Colt Park, where you can go biking, play volleyball, walk along the trails, or even have a relaxing picnic.

After a delicious breakfast, The Artful Lodger recommend jumping on the ferry to see all the beautiful surrounding areas of the Narragansett Bay. You can stop in some of the quaint towns on the way.

The innkeepers of the Sarah Kendall House encourage guests to visit Boston, which is about 90 miles away, to attend a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Another great excursion is to Cape Cod, which can take a little over an hour to three hours depending on how far you want to venture. If you love to gamble, hop in the car and drive about an hour to reach Foxwoods Casino. They also recommend driving a little over an hour to reach the Mystic Seaport, a large maritime museum where you can visit a recreated 19th-century village, climb aboard historic vessels, watch shipyard preservation in action, and more.

By Emily Starbuck Crone





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